"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing." ~ Dame Agatha Christie

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dumb and Dumber--Where does it Stop?

Please help start a movement to save the English language!

Most of my friends are 40+ and I enjoy surrounding myself with people who read and enjoy the arts. Call us "old fogeys" if you will, but we enjoy intellectual discussion on many varied topics. Several of us will start reading a novel and get so engrossed with some aspect of the setting or timeline that we will head to the nearest encyclopedia for a deeper understanding.

Recently, we have noticed more slang in printed works. Slang has a place in creating characters or moods, but too much of an okay thing is not at all right. Then we began to notice books in which computer proofing caused grammar errors--"two" for "too" or "to"; "their" being used for "there" and vice-versa--need I go on?

And I could truly rant about the obnoxious spelling present in "tweets", text-messages and e-mails. What started as a few emoticons in e-mails from one friend to another has begun to steamroll into blatant disregard--even in professional environs--for intelligent written communication.

A noted magazine geared towards writers is having a lively discussion through the letters to the editor due to a contest-winning entry that could have benefited from better grammar and punctuation.

The editorial column in volume 11, issue 4 of North and South explains my angst much more coherently than I; please find a copy and read it.

Our President has challenged us to learn and to value education no matter our age. If we are to meet all the challenges inherent in keeping the United States as a world power throughout the next decades, we must be able to communicate. Writing, whether on paper or electronically produced, must make clear sense to those who read and act upon what was written. Creativity is transmitted best when it is concise and readable. This is true when talking to my boss. It is true when writing a blog post. It is true when discussing possible solutions to financial problems, global warming, cessation of hostilities across the world--imagine diplomacy without precise translation from one language to another...

I have forgotten grammar, syntax, and spelling more often than I care to admit, and this aspiring writer knows she will never be the next J.K. Rowling, Lincoln Childs, Diana Gabaldon or Kathy Lynn Emerson. I pray however, that my inevitable rejection letters will not come because of spelling or sloppy sentence structure.

I refuse to "dumb down" to increase my audience. Each day brings us another opportunity to stretch our imaginations and increase our communication skills, and I refuse to believe I am alone in holding true to traditional ideals of language. Our young people will rise to a challenge if we require it as we have in the past. They have begun to read again thanks to "Twilight" and "Harry Potter". Now we need to encourage them to write (thanks Christopher Paolini for proving it can be done!).

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